I blinked. Still fuzzy.
“Red looks good on you,” The optician smiled. “Try these.”
I looked in the little mirror on the table, a wavy round ball of light. I looked across the room at another mirror – NOW I could see.
“Mmm… too hipster. I’m looking for more… Sarah Palin.”
I took the glasses off and rubbed my eyes. Whoever came up with the ingenious idea of dilating patients’ eyes BEFORE they pick their glasses should be given a gold star for sales effectiveness. What better way to sell glasses than to blind your customers to the price? The optician was walking around the store, gathering more options, while I desperately tried to figure out whether the pricetag started with a 2 or a 4. There is a big difference between $275 and $475. Sarah Palin can perhaps afford it, but Phylicia can’t.
I chose a pair of Nine West frames and was reassured I was fine to drive home. “You can see long distances, just not close up.”
We need it just to live. Without it we are dependent upon people, a cane, perhaps a seeing-eye dog; yet those of us with eyes take them for granted every day! Our eyes focus on long distances when we drive, then switch to focus on tiny print when we read. It happens automatically, and we rarely notice until something goes wrong.
What about when something goes wrong in life? Could we have seen it coming? Could we have had the vision to prevent it?
God’s word talks about this kind of vision: the kind of foresight that makes a prudent, discerning, and prepared woman who she is.
“Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained; but happy is she who keeps the law.” (Prov. 29:18)
What is a vision in terms of life as a woman? The Dictionary defines it as the “the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be”. Synonyms are perception and discernment. But being a visionary does not mean becoming a professional worrywart. To understand what it means to have vision and thus, how to keep it, we must see how it directly impacts our lives.
Picture yourself at the top of a mountain, or a high building. You feel the wind pressing against you and you look across the open, rolling valley, dotted with trees and quilt-like squares of farmland. You can see all the way to the horizon, and down there – yes, right there at the tip of your finger – you can point to home.
You head back down the hiking trail, or stairs, beginning your descent. Your eyes are no longer looking at the broad, clear valley to which you are now headed; now your eyes are focused on the step ahead of you. You don’t want to trip! The path can be slippery and the sky might darken, so you focus on each step. But in the back of your mind you still see the valley, home – your destination.
Vision is twofold. It is the overarching goal of your life and it is the mundane daily steps to get there. It is in the mundane that we are in danger of hurrying, still focused on the big picture instead of the step ahead. In our rush to reach the vision, we lose sight of what’s right here.
I love receiving emails from readers. It is amazing to me how many walks of life are represented when I hear from each of these ladies: the 18 year old girl still facing her future; the mother who found joy even in infertility; the 20-something career woman navigating a secular workplace; a mom of three discipling the next generation. Each of these women – and the rest of us as well – has a calling on her life. That calling may merge, change, and morph over time as God directs us, but it is still His call, and we seek to answer.
Despite this, do you ever struggle to see the goal in it all? Day to day we work, we clean, we cook, we type, we meet – for what? Step after step we walk, trying to remember the mountaintop view. How can we live motivated, energetic, goal-oriented lives in the daily grind?
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (1 Cor. 9:24-27)
In this passage, I almost feel as if Paul is ahead of us in a race, calling behind him: “Keep running, so you reach the finish! Strive for excellence! Eyes on the prize!”
Yes, but how?
1. Seek to Know God’s Will
If you are like me, you often wish a cosmic blueprint would drop from the sky illustrating the next ten years of life. We think that would be great, but without uncertainty there is no faith! Our faith in God drives us forward into the unknown. But in that unknown, we can still know God’s will – not for the next ten years, but for today.
Theologians sometimes say there are two revelations of God’s will in the life of a believer: specific and general. God’s specific will for you will differ from his will for me. Your skills, job history, interests, passions, and scars have all prepared you for where you are today. It is important to grasp that where God has you today is where He wants you. Whether you got there by a miracle or a mistake, you’re there, and it is in this moment of time that your potential blooms. I personally believe that God’s specific will for each woman is most often revealed slowly, over time. We have to be listening intently for his direction, but he will make it known! He promises to, in fact:
“And your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.” (Is. 30:21)
“The steps of a [woman] are established by the Lord, when she delights in his way…” (Ps. 37:23)
His general will, however, is always available, consistent through every stage of life. God reveals this general will to us in his Word, which is why spending time in prayer and reading is so important to us as Christian women.
“Be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18)
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:2)
“He has told you, O [woman], what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
In these verses and others, we see God lay out the ‘bare minimum’ of his will for us: be joyful, pray always, give thanks, renew your mind, do what is right, commit to kindness, and live in humility. These are the principles of his will into which our specific calling fits.
With this reassurance, we can know God’s will for today. And for tomorrow – he reveals that to us as we seek him!
2. Put Up the Bumpers
I’m a terrible bowler. Josh can bowl straight, curved, and probably even upside down if he wanted and still get a strike, whereas I’m lucky to knock down one little pin. I’ve found I do better when I stop thinking about the people watching me and focus straight ahead. Of course, I do best when the bumpers are up to keep me on the straight and narrow of the lane.
Achieving goals and living a life of eternal perspective requires putting up bumpers of our own. Our vision needs to be fixed on what is before us; an immovable gaze, distracted by nothing. Sometimes we have to put up walls – the good kind – to keep our gaze forward and our focus on God’s will for today. We are encouraged to do this several times in God’s word:
“…fix your eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (Heb. 12:2)
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18)
“Let your eyes look straight ahead, and let your gaze be directly before you.” (Prov. 4:25)
If you know your skills and passions, focus on where they intersect. Develop your skills in that area, take an internship, read about it, and learn from the experts! If you have an interest, develop it! If you know you are good at something, research how to use it!
If you are wondering where God is taking you, you can still do all of the above. But for those of us who both know our mission and those of us waiting to discover it, we have God’s general will laid out for us. Put up the bumpers if you have to until you can focus on that will wholeheartedly! As we seek God’s general will with all we are, his specific will for our life is often revealed.
3. Keep the Vision
One of my favorite songs is A Woman’s Heart by Jenny Jordan Frogley. The chorus says:
She’s the keeper of the vision
She’s a beacon in the night
A teacher and defender of the truth
And everything she touches bears the traces of her light
She’s faithful to what God Himself would do
In the home, women are keepers of the vision. Young women, many unmarried and childless, can begin this habit now! We must dedicate ourselves to seeking God’s will, eliminating distractions from that will, and preserving this eternal perspective in our character and homes. Someday we will pass on the vision to the next generation. Some of us even do that now in small groups, churches, and ministry!
We are the keepers. We are truly ‘beacons in the night’. We must know and make known the vision of a God-honoring home and life to those around us – both in word and behavior.
I will close with one of my favorite verses, Habakkuk 2:2-3. In this passage the prophet Habakkuk is seeking God’s answer concerning the Israeli oppression at the hands of the Chaldeans. He begs God to say when he will intervene. God answers him:
“Write the vision;
make it plain on tablets,
so he may run who reads it.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay.”
Wait for it. God is working. It will surely come. In the meantime, make the vision known to others so that they will run with it!
How dedicated we are to God and His will enables others to take the torch and run further than we can. This could be our children, but it could also be our friends, coworkers, and family members. We must remember the mountaintop view while we take the daily steps to get there. Both are God’s will for such a time as this (Esther 4:14).